Tag Archives: Department of Justice

(Update) Analysis by former FBI agent of Nunes Memo

In an earlier post, House Intelligence Committee releases controversial Nunes Memo – and an analysis that destroys it, I included a link to an analysis by Asha Rangappa, a former FBI agent who has been through the process of obtaining these kinds of warrants under the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act (FISA), written before the release of the Nunes Memo. Five Questions the Nunes Memo Better Answer.

Asha Rangappa has updated her analysis in an op-ed at the Washington Post after the Nunes Memo has been released. Devin Nunes tried to discredit the FBI. Instead, he proved it’s onto something.

The point of the memo written by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and released Friday afternoon was supposed to be to expose corruption at the highest levels of the FBI. But what the memo actually did — albeit surely not intentionally — was exactly the opposite. In a brief 3½ pages, Nunes managed to confirm that the investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible ties with Russia has a very solid basis and that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III must keep looking into the case.

As a former special agent for the FBI working on counterintelligence, I used to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants, so I’m familiar with the procedures Nunes implies the FBI abused in this case. To initiate surveillance on former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page in October 2016, the government would have had to demonstrate that Page was “knowingly engaging in clandestine intelligence gathering activities for or on behalf of” Russia. Importantly, the “knowingly” requirement applies only to “U.S. persons” such as Page, not to foreign nationals — which means the government had a slightly higher burden in his case. It takes months and even years to obtain enough relevant evidence for a FISA application, which can include details from physical surveillance, phone and financial records, items recovered from the target’s trash and intelligence obtained from other sources. So the FISA application would probably have outlined the bureau’s efforts going all the way back to 2013, when Page was approached by the FBI, which warned him, based on recordings of Russian intelligence officers, that he was being targeted for recruitment as a Russian spy. (That same year, Page also reportedly wrote in a letter to an academic publisher that he was an “informal advisor to the staff of the Kremlin.”) In counterintelligence investigations, this kind of interview would have been intended to “neutralize” the Russians: The idea is that anyone who was being unwittingly developed as a spy, as Page appeared to be, would be dismayed to realize what was happening and would immediately cease further contact with their intelligence contacts.

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House Intelligence Committee approves release of Democratic Memo rebutting Nunes Memo; NY Times asks FISA Court for Carter Page warrant info

The House Intelligence Committee on Monday voted unanimously to release a memo drafted by Democrats to rebut a GOP-crafted document alleging surveillance abuses at the Department of Justice (DOJ). Intelligence Committee Republicans last week voted down a measure that would have made the Democratic memo public at the same time as the Nunes memo. House Intel votes to release Dem countermemo:

The 10-page classified document now goes to President Trump, who has five days to block its release if he so chooses. It remains an open question whether he will do so.

Don’t hold your breath.

The Democratic memo is expected to lay out a point-by-point rebuttal of the assertions in the Nunes memo and make the case that the FBI had good reason to spy on Page as part of the counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign.

A decision by the Trump White House to block its publication would almost certainly set off a firestorm of accusations from Democrats that he is attempting to obstruct justice.

The White House has signaled that it is open to allowing the release of the Democratic memo, but included a caveat for national security protections.

There were no redactions made by the White House to the Nunes Memo for national security reasons.

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Donald Trump goes full authoritarian demagogue despot (Updated)

As Robert Mueller closes in, Donald Trump is becoming more authoritarian.  Now he is accusing anyone who does not bow down and kiss the feet of King Trump of “treason” (he is the one doing the bidding of his pal Putin).  If you are not one of his blindly loyal sycophant supporters in his cult of personality, you are “un-American.” Quite the opposite is true.  Trump accuses Dems of ‘treasonous’ behavior:

President Trump on Monday accused Democrats of “treasonous” behavior during his State of the Union address, escalating partisan tensions during a crucial stretch for Congress.

Trump took aim at Democratic lawmakers who refused to applaud during his speech last week when he mentioned his achievements during his first year in office, a reaction he called “un-American.”

Can we call that treason? Why not?” the president said during a speech in Ohio. “They certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.”

Trump signaled that Democrats’ refusal to cheer “very positive news” in his speech, such as low unemployment rates for Hispanics and African-Americans, will make it difficult for him to work with them on government spending and immigration.

He said the Democrats “would rather see Trump do badly than our country do well,” calling their behavior “very selfish.”

The president used the 47-minute speech as a warm-up act for the 2018 midterm elections, even though the White House billed it as an official event, and not a political one, meaning taxpayers footed the bill.

He took repeated shots at Democratic congressional leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and praised Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Renacci, who is running for Senate in the fall.

Trump also attacked Democratic incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) for voting against his tax overhaul, which the president said is bolstering the economy.

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Delusional Trump says he is ‘vindicated,’ prosecutor says the ‘Nunes Memo’ is more proof of obstruction of justice

There has been a great deal of discussion by mental health professionals over the past year about the mental health of Donald J. Trump. See for example, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. Numerous individuals have called for invoking the 25th Amendment because the president is mentally unfit to govern.

This tweet demonstrates that Trump certainly is delusional: A delusion is an unshakable belief in something untrue. These irrational beliefs defy normal reasoning, and remain firm even when overwhelming proof is presented to dispute them. Delusions are often accompanied by … feelings of paranoia, which act to strengthen confidence in the delusion.

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Trump tweets, and the media dutifully reports it as if it is “news” rather than merely the ravings of a delusional man. Trump Says Republican Memo ‘Totally Vindicates’ Him:

The memo, while trying to paint the origins of the Russia investigation as tainted, did nothing to clear Mr. Trump of either collusion or obstruction — the lines of inquiry being pursued by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

The memo in fact undermined Republicans’ efforts to cast doubt on the roots of the investigation by confirming that the inquiry was already underway when law enforcement officials obtained a warrant from a secret intelligence court to conduct surveillance on Mr. Page.

The Republican document, which Democrats dismissed as containing cherry-picked information and focusing on an obscure figure in the Trump campaign, confirms that a primary factor in the opening of the investigationin July 2016 was initial contacts between a former Trump foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, and Russian intermediaries.

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House Judiciary Committee Democrats respond to ‘Nunes Memo’

House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Democratic Members of the House Judiciary Committee issued a joint statement on Saturday. Judiciary Democrats: Republicans Are Complicit in Efforts to Obstruct Justice with Release of Nunes Memo:

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Democratic Members of the House Judiciary Committee, issued a joint statement following the release of the “Nunes memo,” a set of misleading talking points drafted by the Republican staff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in an attempt to discredit the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation:

“President Trump’s decision to allow the release of Chairman Nunes’ Republican talking points is part of a coordinated propaganda effort to discredit, disable and defeat the Russia investigation.  House Republicans are now accomplices to a shocking campaign to obstruct the work of the Special Counsel, to undermine the credibility and legitimacy of the Justice Department and the FBI, and to bury the fact that a foreign adversary interfered with our last election.

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‘That’s it?’ The Nunes Memo big reveal is a dud, but the actions of Republicans have damaged our national security and federal law enforcement agencies

If you have not listened to the legal experts discuss the Nunes Memo on The Lawfare Podcast: Special Edition: Memo #Released, here is a post By Quinta Jurecic, Shannon Togawa Mercer, and Benjamin Wittes that summarizes the points made. Thoughts on the Nunes Memo: We Need to Talk About Devin:

After more than two weeks of mounting anticipation and hype, the on alleged surveillance abuses prepared by Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has finally been #released. So does the memo document surveillance abuses “,” as Rep. Steve King tweeted last month? Or is it nothing more than disingenuous spin, as House intelligence committee Vice Chairman Adam Schiff —“a burn-the-house down strategy to protect the president”?

Former FBI director James Comey came down strongly on Schiff’s side Friday afternoon—suggesting as well that the memo didn’t pack much of a punch:

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Note: Zack Beauchamp at Vox.com captures the consensus reaction to the Nunes Memo, The Nunes memo is a dud: After reading it, “there is only one conclusion a fair reader could draw: There is absolutely nothing here.”

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